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Letters From The Past: A Bahamian Journey
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Posted by:Aug 26th 2006, 10:33:19 pm
Fig Tree News TeamJoin the Bahamian genealogy forum online at Yahoo Groups ... today's correspondence chronology comes courtesy of Tian Roberts, and represents extracts from Correspondence of George Chalmers Vol 3 from microfilm at Samuel Carter Brown Library, Brown University.

Really takes you back a few hundred years to the active shipping and farming days of the Out Islands:

Memorial, 21 April 1797, George Chalmers to Committee of Board of Trade.

Re Spanish Trade to the Bahamas, the inclusion of coffee and sugar to list of imports allowed is important. The status of free port should explicitly include Exuma and Caicos.

Extract 8 Oct 1798 letter, Wm. Walker, Esq. of St. Vincent to Hon. Thomas Forbes Esq., Bahamas.

Chalmers sent a letter from Sir Joseph Banks to Mr. Anderson, Superintendent of the Botanical Gardens in St. Vincent, asking him to prepare a shipment of useful exotic plants to be sent to the Bahamas. Walker wants instructions to Admiralty re safe cartage.

Copy Report, Nassau 1 Oct 1798, Committee of Council in the Bahamas examining the Books 25 Sep 1797 - 25 Sep 1798 of the Receiver General and Treasurer.

No evidence of wrongdoing in the accounts. Chalmers should not be paid any damages arising from claim to arrears in salary. Signed Adam Chrystie and Dugald Forbes.

Letter, Office of Board of Trade Whitehall, 6 Oct 1796, Chalmers to Board of Trade.

The planters of Crooked Island being Loyalist refugees, have cultivated the soil and grown cotton. Whereas the soil is exhausted and pests uncontrollable, they applied for other lands elsewhere to cultivate. Gov. Dowdeswell granted lands without title, and without title, all cultivation will cease for lack of tenure and the Bahamas islands be abandoned.

Letter, St. Vincent 10 Oct 1798, William Walker to Chalmers.

Walker is intending to retire from posts of Commissary and Commissary General in St. Vincent, held for 34 years. An armed schooner is expected from the Bahamas and Walker will pay transport of plants to be reimbursed by the Legislature of the Bahamas. Walker thinks breadfruit plants will be particularly valuable and has previously shared his with friends in the Bahamas. Walker has a "little Key in Exuma Harbour" where his five year old breadfruit tree is fruiting well.

Copy letter 1 Nov 1798, Alexander Anderson, Botanical Gardens, St. Vincent, to Sir Joseph Banks, London.

Anderson has 100 boxes of plants ready and more being prepared, but transportation to Bahamas is difficult.

Letter, New Providence 2 Jan 1799, Wm. Wylly to Chalmers.

Wylly has been approved by Gov. Dowdeswell as Town Major. Wylly's brother has been made a Militia Captain on half pay, "so that he gained no great matter by the exchange."

Letter, New Providence 24 Jan 1799, Peter Edwards to Chalmers.

Edwards has approached Gov. Dowdeswell and written to Wm. King re appointment of his son as Prothonotary and Clerk of the Crown. Edwards asks Chalmers to add his weight to the request. Mr. Webb who arrived with letters was accompanied by a Mr. Slater, who had an apoplectic fit while calling on the governor and died. Slater's wife, on board ship, found out the following day and had her husband buried at sea.

Letter, confidential, New Providence 8 Jan 1799, Peter Edwards to Chalmers.

The Council and Assembly are still split along former lines, but the plight of the planters may yet unify the government. The 47th Regiment has not yet arrived. Damage from chenille in Long and Crooked Islands is "truly mortifying." The Spanish trade keeps the islands alive.

Letter, Nassau Government House 23 Jan 1799, Gov. Dowdeswell to Chalmers.

Thanks Chalmers for efforts to get Spanish trade regulated. The import of Coffee and sugar are of great importance to the economy. Mr. Duffe does well by the change of regulations. The Gov. is disappointed he barely escaped censure re his handling of planters in Crooked Island. Public expenses are high, mostly to see through projects begun under Forbes. Joseph Eve's money is reduced to voluntary contributions.

Letter, Nassau 24 Jan 1799, John Wells to Chalmers.

Sees a pervasive French influence in European politics. Exuma has escaped the chenille. In other islands American Corn is being grown on a much larger scale than before. Encloses clipping of a poem written by Joseph Eve for the Bahamas Gazette.

Copy letter, Botanical Gardens St. Vincent, 9 Feb 1799, General Melville to Sir Joseph Banks. Reply to queries re the Botanical Garden, St. Vincent. The first grants of land there, notes on staffing.

Letter, St. Vincent 15 March 1799, William Walker to Geo. Chalmers.

The armed schooner the 'Lord Duncan' has arrived from the Bahamas. The owners are returning via Nova Scotia. Walker has convinced them to drop off plant material in the Bahamas but the cost of transport is 500, to be advanced by Walker and repaid by the Bahamas Assembly.

Letter, Nassau 29 March 1799, John Wells to Chalmers.

On orders from Madrid, preparations are being made in Havanna for a British armada attack out of Portsmouth. Admiral Bligh is patrolling the area with a squadron and stopping trade. Bahamian privateers intercepted three feluccas [sic] with quicksilver bound from Cadiz to Vera Cruz and brought them to Nassau.

Copy letter, Government House Bahamas 4 April 1799, Gov. Dowdeswell to William Walker in St. Vincent.

Thanks for seeing to Sir Joseph Banks' request re plants. The shipment might cause the Assembly to have ground prepared and appoint a caretaker. Asks Walker to hold on to the plants, at least until the assembly meets again in November.

Duplicate letter, Government House, Bahamas 10 May 1799, Gov. Dowdeswell to Chalmers.

Enclosing copies of correspondence re plants from St. Vincent. Nothing has been done about them by the Legislature, but might be on the agenda of the next sitting.

Duplicate letter, Office for Trade, Whitehall 17 May 1799, Chalmers to Wm. Walker in St. Vincent.

Since efforts to secure carriage for the plants by the Admiralty have been unsuccessful, Chalmers is happy Walker has gone ahead and done something. Sir Joseph Banks is pleased with 'the King's Gardener' Mr. Anderson. Banks is sending a plan for a Public Botanical Garden for the Bahamas.
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